UNCW Press Release
DURHAM, North Carolina – Ninth-ranked Duke won the doubles point in close fashion and tacked on three singles victories to turn back upset-minded UNCW, 4-0, in the second round of the NCAA Men's Tennis Regionals on Saturday at Duke's Ambler Tennis Center.
The Blue Devils, seeded No. 1 in the regional, pushed their record to 24-5 and advanced to the NCAA's Round of 16 next week in Champaign, Ill. The Seahawks closed out the season with a 19-5 mark and had their 11-match winning streak go by the wayside.
"Duke is a very deep and talented team," said sixth-year Head Coach Mait DuBois of UNCW. "We had our opportunities, but Duke did a good job of winning the big points. They came out on fire in singles."
One day after upsetting No. 18 South Carolina, the Seahawks hooked up with the Blue Devils of the Atlantic Coast Conference in a match delayed twice by rain showers and played inside for the final few points.
In doubles action, Duke's Henrique Cunha and Raphael Hemmeler, ranked No. 2 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, was first off the court after defeating No. 30 Kosta Blank and Chris Cooprider of UNCW, 8-3. Cunha and Hemmeler improved their record to 23-2 this spring and trail only Tennessee's Hunter Reese and Mikelis Libietis in the national rankings.
The Seahawks pulled even for the early point when Rafael Aita and Sam Williams, No. 52 in the ITA, upset No. 19 Michael Redicki and Jason Tahir of Duke, 8-5, at No. 2 doubles. Aita and Williams remained perfect at 15-0 on the season, including a 14-0 scorecard at the No. 2 position.
With the crucial point on the line, Duke's Fred Saba and Bruno Semenzato came from behind to top UNCW's Santtu Leskinen and Kaue Pereira, 8-6, at No. 3 doubles to give the Blue Devils a 1-0 edge in the match.
"When we lost the doubles point," DuBois added, "that took some of our momentum away. Losing the doubles point is something we haven't had to deal with much this year."
The Blue Devils pushed the score to 2-0 when the first match of singles action concluded. Hemmeler, ranked 74th, scooted past UNCW's Kaue Pereiera, 6-0, 7-5, at No. 4 singles to give Duke some breathing room.
Duke then raised the score to 3-0 when Jason Tahir routed Kosta Blank, 6-1, 6-1, at No. 5 singles before Josh Levine clinched the match with a 6-3, 6-2 verdict over UNCW sophomore Zach Hublitz.
While the loss ended the season for the Seahawks as a team, three players have earned invitations to play in the NCAA's singles and doubles draw. Aita will compete in singles, while Blank and Cooprider are set to represent UNCW in doubles next week in Champaign, Ill.
DuBois said, "I feel very positive that we took another step forward this year. That's the most important thing in my mind…taking a step forward."